Foreign domestic workers to begin work in Seoul by December

2023.09.04 09:54:02 | 2023.09.04 12:23:25

A housework service provider is providing work training to their housekeeping managers.이미지 확대

A housework service provider is providing work training to their housekeeping managers.



As part of a recent government decision, 100 foreign domestic workers will provide childcare and housekeeping services as part of a pilot that will begin in December at the earliest.

The South Korean government finalized a plan to hire 100 foreign domestic workers, who will initially work in Seoul, during a foreign labor meeting organized by the Ministry of Employment and Labor on Friday. The plan is one of the national measures addressing the nation’s chronic low birth rate and part of a pilot project testing the domestic labor import system already in place in territories such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The primary service users include couples between their 20s and 40s, single parents, and households with multiple children. A government survey revealed that most households were interested in part-time services, ranging from 1 to 3 times a week for 4 to 6 hours per session. The government plans to negotiate service fees with the Seoul city government and service providers to lower them from the current market rate of 15,000 won ($11.35) per hour.

The industry response regarding the introduction of foreign domestic workers is positive overall. The number of domestic workers and nannies has steadily declined, with a labor shortage exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and an aging population. According to the labor ministry, more than 92.3 percent of those in domestic services are aged 50 or older, with 63.5 percent being 60 or older. “Compared to 2019, the number of domestic workers has fallen by more than 40,000. Even considering a natural decrease due to the declining population, the domestic services market is facing a serious labor shortage,” an industry insider, who operates their own government-certified domestic worker agency, said . A second industry insider projected that “trained professionals in their 30s” from foreign countries could even serve as a “premium.”

However, others say institutional measures or procedures to prevent potential side effects, such as illegal residency and sexual harassment that could arise with the introduction of foreign domestic workers, are needed. “There have been a lot of cases where foreign domestic workers were illegally hired. It would be better to open the market and regulate it to prevent potential issues,” a domestic workers agency operator said.

Most potential customers of such services, including dual-income households, have also reacted positively to the plan, as price uncertainty has been partially alleviated. The government will encourage part-time employment after a survey found that most households prefer part-time employment over full-time. Initially, it was reported that a family may have to pay 2 million won or more per month to hire a foreign domestic worker.

“Foreign domestic workers will be selected from among non-Koreans aged 24 and older, following evaluations of their relevant experience, knowledge, language skills, and more. We will also conduct background checks and drug tests to ensure that only qualified individuals provide services,” according to an official from the labor ministry.

By Lee Jin-han and Chang Iou-chung

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]